Reshuffle Marks Transition to Gradual Change

First, it should be noted that the current reorganization of the government and related personnel changes demonstrate the new style of presidential politics. Its essence lies in the rejection of the “revolutionary change” and demonstrates the transition to a gradual restructuring of the governmental apparatus.

The change of government in Kazakhstan in the fall of 2012 was surprisingly smooth and was not accompanied by an upheaval of ministries and their responsibilities. It was obvious that the new prime minister, Serik Akhmetov, with the support of the head of state, chose to work some time with the old structure and team in order to understand shortcomings and to find a new formula. This is what happened now.

A new Ministry of Regional Development was established, which aims to strengthen the control of the centre for the implementation of economic and administrative reforms in the country. As is known, for various reasons, 14 Kazakh regions are at quite different levels of economic and social development. For comparison, according to the government, the difference in per capita income between certain regions is almost four times!

Coordination of the work aimed at addressing these and other issues will be conducted by a new ministry headed by experienced civil servant Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, who will also hold the rank of the first deputy prime minister of the country. Powers of the Ministry of Economy (Minister – Yerbolat Dossayev) and the Ministry of the Environment (minister – Nurlan Kapparov) were strengthened. Both officials are experienced managers, with know-how both in government and in the business.

The appointment of Marat Tazhin as Secretary of State seems to be to strengthen the level of implementation of the new state programme “Kazakhstan-2050”. Tazhin repeatedly served as Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration and Secretary of the Security Council. Nevertheless, he is known primarily as a leading strategist of the presidential team. Moreover, his new role suggests that Nursultan Nazarbayev intends to seriously raise the level of implementation of his recently announced programme.

With regards to the former Deputy Prime Minister Krymbek Kusherbayev and former Secretary of State Mukhtar Kul-Muhammed, their new positions can be considered a demotion in name only. Kusherbayev now heads the Kyzyl Orda region, a region with great potential, including a major oil production, but one which is in the doldrums, and Kul-Muhammed again became Minister of Culture and Information, which has an important role in the implementation of the new political course. It comes as a new model for the formation of Kazakhstan patriotism, and also the transfer of the Kazakh language to the Latin script. It appears that President Nursultan Nazarbayev has dropped and threw his old allies on a new front, where their expertise will be extremely demanded.

The author is a political scientist and the editor and publisher of Who Is Who in Kazakhstan.

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